Wente: free heroin to users? Oh, please…

November 20, 2008 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

The Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente hates liberal approaches to addiction. Her latest column criticizes the NAOMI project, which gives hard-core heroin users a prescription substitute of Dilaudid.

She includes quotes from “experts” that hate NAOMI too, and brands NAOMI supporters as biased and enabling:

Stan deVlaming, a Downtown Eastside addictions doctor who’s also a strong critic of NAOMI, says: “There’s a fine line between harm reduction and enabling. If I make it easier for people to stay addicted, am I doing them any favours?” Injecting any drug, he says, can have gruesome and life-threatening side effects. And he sees them every day.

Both doctors point out that keeping addicts addicted is nothing more than palliative care. They’d rather see the money spent on rehab. Even some of the most dysfunctional patients, they say, can eventually recover. “My work is incredibly satisfying, because a lot of them do get better,” says Dr. Kahan. “It’s kind of like a return to life.”

But many people in B.C.’s drug policy establishment have a very different vision. They want to see prescription heroin made available on a broad scale, and some would even like to see it legalized. As far as they’re concerned, $8-million in federal research money to fund the NAOMI trial is money well spent.

But at the core of the argument is a truth that is also found in the supervised injection debate–that the one point everyone agrees on is there needs to be better treatment options. NAOMI should be reserved for the worst of the worst–those who simply fail at conventional treatment. It is a last resort. It should be considered if only for the reason that it takes the drug dealers and theft-for-drugs factors out of the equation.

Entry filed under: safe injection sites, social issues.

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